Friday, March 14, 2008

Notes from the Library

Are we really doing kids in our community a favor by providing computers with internet access? Consider the mission statement of my local library (from their website): " The mission of the library is to provide and ensure access to materials and services to meet the lifelong learning needs of residents and organizations as well as to create a welcoming place to gather, exchange ideas and participate in cultural events." I could quibble with this mission statement. I think libraries should be places that promote reading, culture and a spirit of critical thinking and contemplation. However, everything seems to be market oriented now - give people what they want.

My observation is that many of the kids in the library spend all their time in front of computer screens on MySpace, chat and watching videos. No books enter their hands; Microsoft Word is not used to write a paper; the internet is not used to research school assignments.

According to Susan Jacoby in her latest book (The Age of American Unreason), our children are already suffering from too much "infotainment" - junk disguised as news or knowledge. They know quite a bit about hip-hop stars and the latest activities of Brittany Spears, but not much that will help them make the world a better place. Our tax money should not be spent such that it makes our kids dumber. Our libraries should not be participants in that activity.

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